FARMINGTON — Last week, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly stated he would support purchasing Navajo Mine if two conditions were met by the Navajo Nation Council.
Shelly said the council would have to pass the Navajo Nation Energy Policy of 2013 and consider revising the Desert Rock energy project.
Shelly made his statement during an Oct. 4 press conference at the Upper Fruitland Chapter house. Since then, the energy policy has been on the fast track for legislative approval.
The energy policy would set the principles for exploration, development, sustainable management and use of energy resources on tribal lands.
Included in the policy is a section on the future of coal and coal-fired power plants located on the Navajo Nation.
"Coal and coal-fired plants are a significant component of the Navajo economy and the nation's revenues," the energy policy states. "The nation will encourage a future in coal as a key component of the nation's energy mix as a coal producer that derives a significant amount of royalties, rent, fees, jobs and tax revenue from coal mining and production of electricity."
The energy policy also calls for the tribe to support clean coal technology and any of its developments, a measure that is also receiving support from Shelly.
As for uranium, the energy policy supports the tribe's moratorium, which was enacted in 2005, on uranium mining on tribal lands.
The energy policy also establishes a Navajo Energy Office within the executive branch to oversee the tribe's long term approach to energy planning.
Within the past week, the Resources and Development Committee and the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee have considered and passed the energy policy.
Also moving quickly through the legislative process is a bill requesting $4.1 million in supplemental funding from the Unreserved Undesignated Fund Balance to pay for the Navajo Transitional Energy Company LLC, which is the entity overseeing the mine acquisition.
According to the legislation, NTEC needs money for initial and immediate costs associated with completing the ongoing negotiations and to complete the purchase transaction with parent company BHP Billiton.
That supplemental request was also approved this week by the Resources and Development Committee.
It proceeded to the Budget and Finance Committee, which convened in a special meeting Oct. 10, and was passed and forwarded to the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee.
Members of the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee met for two hours in executive session to hear a report from the tribe's Department of Justice on plans to assert water rights claims to the Upper Colorado River and a report from NTEC about the $4.1 million supplemental request.
Committee members voted -- 13 to one -- to approve the appropriation.
But the final outcome of both bills will be decided by the council when delegates meet Oct. 16 in a special session in Window Rock.
Since discussion started on the possible mine purchase, the impacted chapters of Nenahnezad, San Juan, Shiprock, T'iistoh Sikaad, Tse Daa K'aan and Upper Fruitland have been quiet about the developments.
Little by little, the chapters are moving forward, so far issuing support.
It started in September, when Upper Fruitland Chapter residents approved a resolution supporting the purchase followed by Nenahnezad Chapter with a similar resolution Oct. 7.
The resolution from Nenahnezad Chapter requests that NTEC continue the same financial and working relationship that has been established between the chapter and BHP Billiton.
It also requests that the tribe "address the impact that Navajo Mine has made on the chapter and to begin discussion regarding a percentage of the revenue from the coal company to be returned to the chapter."
Shiprock Chapter tabled a vote on a resolution to side with environmental group, Diné CARE that opposes the purchase.